Sunday, 30 December 2012

NZ visit for crew of Tiare Taporo III

We left Cairns on a direct flight for Auckland on Dec. 13th. Jim was entertained for the first part of the flight by recognising landmarks and anchorages that we had sailed past or anchored at on the passage north to Cairns. Otherwise an uneventful flight and we landed on schedule at 2025. Suddenly we had "lost" 3 hours! Tracie and Pritika very kindly met us and we gave a lift to the Shore to Tania who is also off a boat here in Bluewater and she and her boyfriend had given us a lift to Cairns Airport earlier.
Next morning Jim was picked up at 0550 (0250 to us!!) by a shuttle and it was only thanks to Tracie who woke us up just in time that he made it. 15 minutes from falling out of bed to sitting bleary eyed in the shuttle. 1000 arrival in Christchurch and met by Jon, Charlotte's husband. Charlotte was in Wellington on business so Jon dropped Jim off at home and went back to work. Jim was kept busy cleaning up the breakfast detritus in the kitchen and going to the supermarket for some essential provisions. Lucia and Elsie were dropped off at 4 from preschool and Chris, a lovely Scottish lady who lives down the road, was on hand for the children until Jon arrived home a short time later. Soon Charlotte was home too and it was a rare treat to be with them in their normal family environment. The sad thing was that Jean would have loved to have been there too but, because of our short overall time in NZ, she felt she needed to spend time with her sister, Heather and organising the next phases of her recovery.
Lucia will be 5 in March and Elsie has just turned 2 and they are delightful. Elsie doesn't like making a mess and on the rare occasions that she might spill a little food on the table she looks very gravely at it and then says "Uh Oh" and then says with great feeling, "Bugger"!!!! They are a source of constant amusement - except when Lucia won't go to bed and things can then get a little fraught.
Next day it was off to Playschool Christmas Party and there were carols and Santa and lots of lovely cherrios. We took Jim's Kranskys which he'd thought he'd have for breakfast so then had to buy some more. Santa offered Jim a job for next year and appeared very taken with his long grey hair and similarly coloured beard, but Jim was relieved to be able to gracefully decline as hopefully next Christmas we'll be in Malaysia! Most of the time was spent at home with Charlotte, Jon and the children - then Jon had to go to Auckland for a staff Christmas function. Jim took Lucia to Santa's Grotto and Lucia amused herself by going around the exhibits at twice the speed of poor old Poppa Jim. We also went to a farmer's market in the Riccarton Gardens where we bought some Christmas goodies and had a wonderful walk in what is one of the last remnants of Kahikatea Forest which once covered the Canterbury Plains. It was a block purchased and preserved by one of Christchurch's early settler families in the late 1800's and is a great asset for Christchurch. Jim kept looking at the many mature Kahikatea and thinking how good they'd be for boatbuilding!!
Then all too soon it was time to say goodbye for another year but there are lots of photos to treasure.
On the 17th., courtesy of Perry (Jean's son), we drove to Whangarei in his black 4WD. We had the usual very pleasant time staying with Hamish and Sara (who had been over here not long before) and met up with as many old friends as we could manage in the short time in between doctors appointments, blood tests, a mole biopsy for Jean and an examination of our storage unit which appears to be all OK. Andrew Miller, our doctor greeted us across the waiting room with something like "here are the ocean wanderers back again!" and we might have responded with something like "patients from hell!". Haven't had the results just yet but hopefully not anticipating any issues - Jim's blood pressure was good. Then lunch with Richard and Pauline and it was lovely to have a good discussion about global financial matters and enjoy their erudite company. We also managed to visit Robyn on "Special Edition" and Noel and Litara on "Sina" at the Town Basin. And Elizabeth Hansen, another of the Kaiwaka/Mangawhai cousins! All too short. Robyn had sailed earlier in the year from NZ to Cairns (before we arrived there) and then half way through Indonesia on another yacht before flying home. Once again after a very pleasant stay it was all too soon to say goodbye again and on the 20th. we returned to Auckland. Before leaving we paid another visit to Noel and Litara and the obligatory cheek was exchanged between the old sparring partners, Jean and Noel. Noel was particularly interested to see how far up Jean's legs the suntan extended and was suitably impressed! 'Nuff said on that subject! Noel had injured his foot a couple of days before and Jean offered to bring an axe! At least she didn't tell him to again!
Then it was finally off to Auckland via Mangawhai to visit Jane (Jean's cousin) and her husband Roy Vaughn. Roy is an author and an ex merchant navy officer so there are always many interesting stories to hear.
Once more back in Auckland, but no relaxing. We visited Jim's other daughters, Rozanne and Amanda. Rozanne has a senior teaching administrative position at St. Cuthberts College and also has another delightful grandchild for Poppa Jim - this time a boy called Harry. Such a good no-nonsense name - we approve. Harry is 2 and is a most sociable and friendly and photogenic little chap. Rozanne is just finishing her thesis for her Master of Education (35,000 words) and has not only held down a demanding fulltime job but also has her son Harry to look after along with her partner Chris who also has a fulltime teaching job. So, busy busy busy and Rozanne described the year just passed as "hideously difficult". Amanda is loving her job as a registered midwife and is working all hours available. Even Christmas day - still, don't suppose babies are all that considerate when deciding when to arrive.
We feel so proud of all of them - and Perry and Tracie - for what they have achieved during their lives so far. We don't appear to be contributing much lately with all this swanning about the oceans but we have our own challenges to meet which can be mentally and physically demanding, to say the least. So, in our own way we are all confronting life head on. In our case though we have some time off from time to time when we get into a marina and lose our sealegs.
Jean meanwhile had caught up with Jenny Hastie (another cousin) in Waipu and it was great to see Debbie, Margaret, Kate, Roy and Jeff and families - and another old friend in Takapuna, Steve Collie of Atlas Concrete. We also caught up with Alec (Jim's brother) and Linda who has been very unwell with three operations in recent times. We wish that she can now make a lasting and speedy recovery. Another visit squeezed in was to John (Jim's antique dealer cousin) and his partner, Garry. Always great to see them and to catch up with family news. So, all told a most satisfactory visit, not to mention our two Christmas dinners. One on the 23rd. with Tracie's family at Pukekohe and then on Christmas Day at Perry and Tracie's. Perry had been given an electronic game where you stand in front of a flat screen TV and very realistically pretend to be playing table tennis, beach volleyball, etc. Lots of fun. Kagan (Jean's nephew) called in and it was a poignant visit for Jean given Kagan's precarious health. Pritika and Heather were there as well as Tracie's parents, Lorraine and her stepdad, Alan.
The only jarring note happened when we arrived at Auckland Airport for our return (via Brisbane) on the 27th. We had carefully packed various items we had purchased in 3 small cartons and were well under our overall weight limit. However, on arrival, we were told that we could only have 2 check-in items and any more would cost us at least $75 ea.!!
So, there we were on our hands and knees in the departure area taping 2 of the boxes together but then an officious Air NZ woman told us we couldn't get away with merely joining 2 together to defeat their financial rapaciousness. We stood our ground and the encounter was quite aggressive and if it hadn't been for a more friendly European check-in lady it might have ended in fisticuffs. We'd have to say that the (mainly) Polynesian staff were very unpleasant and all this coupled with the absolutely chaotic lack of queuing for checkout at these ridiculous kiosks made for a most unpleasant experience. We were on Virgin Australia tickets (codeshared with Air NZ) and when we again checked our baggage in at Brisbane for Cairns with Virgin the difference was as chalk and cheese. The Air NZ attitude was surly to say the least and we will never fly with them again. We are totally against the proposed state asset sales, but the exception is Air NZ and the sooner it goes the better - maybe the Chinese will run it with a modicum of service? And hopefully can the nonsensical black colour scheme. There's too much black in Godszone; the whole place looks like a funeral about to happen.
Well, on that cheery note we will love and leave you - not before time we hear you say!
We hope that 2013 will be all that you would wish for you and yours,
With lots of love
Jim and Jean xoxoxo

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Seasons greetings from Tiare Taporo III

To all our family and friends (cruising and otherwise!!) - we wish you all the very best for a very happy Christmas and may the New Year bring you everything you would wish.
We'll be in New Zealand over the next 2 weeks and hopefully will see as many as possible during that time. Otherwise during our cruising travels over the next year we hope to renew acquaintance.
With very best wishes
Jim and Jean (Gina)
s.v. Tiare Taporo III
Bluewater Marina
Trinity Park

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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Visits from afar

November has been a busy month. We had Sara and Hamish earlier in the month (see our earlier blog) and then Jean's son Perry and his girlfriend Tracie over the weekend of the 23rd. - 25th. It was great to see them. Tracie had flown in ahead of Perry so we met her in town for lunch and then had a swim in the Cairns municipal pool right on the waterfront. A very impressive development (Airlie Beach has a similar one too) and obviously very popular with locals. Sure beats swimming with the marine stingers and crocodiles!! Tracie was staying at her friend's place and had ridden her pushbike about 6 kms into town. Our method of transport was much more staid - Sunbus!!
That was all very good and then, after Perry had flown in from SE Asia (via Sydney!!), they came aboard on Thursday afternoon. High tide was at 1739 so the plan was to leave an hour before which we did. We negotiated the "great grey green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees" and headed off for Fitzroy Island. We arrived after dark but no problem in finding a good anchorage and we settled down for a quiet night.
Next day we all went ashore where Perry and Tracie had booked a beachside cabin. They checked in and then Tracie's friend Jude arrived from Cairns on the ferry. They all stayed in the cabin which had 2 bedrooms and was quite luxurious and Perry and Jean cooked a BBQ meal on a nearby electric BBQ which we all enjoyed together with copious quantities of red wine back in the cabin. It was Perry's birthday in a week's time and we had brought a Tiramisu cake with us to mark the occasion. A spirited discussion about so-called indigenous people took place at one point (!) and then we took our leave and repaired to the boat for the night. Fortunately we'd remembered to leave the anchor light on so navigation was relatively easy!
The next morning we came ashore and had a very pleasant breakfast in the resort restaurant (courtesy of Perry) before finally all going back aboard for the passage back to Bluewater (Cairns). We needed to ensure that our arrival coincided with high tide (about 1800). We had decided to sail if conditions allowed and so very soon after raising the anchor we turned off the iron sail and abandoned ourselves to the elements. There was very little wind for a while and we were beginning to think that the iron sail might have to be resurrected when the wind slowly started to increase. We finished up having a spirited sail during which the skipper attended to navigation and tactics (very demanding!!) and Jean kept the "kids" supplied with snacks and drinks from the galley!
By great good fortune 6 - 7 hours later we managed to arrive off the leading beacons at Yorkeys Knob almost spot on as time went. Everyone thought it was the skipper's good management and skill (!) and who was he to disabuse them! We entered the Limpopo once more searching for the elusive crocodile but still have not managed to see him - or her. All very tired and a little sun burnt but very happy after a wonderful few days out on the boat. It was one of those times where everything went to plan absolutely flawlessly but in no small measure due to Jean's planning and execution in the food and accommodation departments.
After we had berthed Perry, Tracie and Jude left for Jude's place from where they were both flying out the next day - Perry to Melbourne and Tracie back to Auckland.
The biggest news since then is that we have acquired a portable air conditioner and the boat is now at a habitable temperature - about 25C. Outside these days it is commonly in the low 30's. We had our first major expedition on our bikes the other day - we rode over to Trinity Beach (about 6 kms.) and had breakfast on the beach. A lovely day and a beautiful beach - just such a shame that one cannot swim due to stingers and the possibility of crocodiles. One was seen off there just a few weeks ago. The only fly in the ointment was the seat on Jim's bike which is an instrument of torture!! We have since obtained another with more padding but haven't given it an extensive test yet.
We are looking forward to our visit to NZ coming up in 10 day's time. A brief itinerary: we arrive at 2025 on Dec. 12th. (staying with Perry and Tracie at Milford), then Jim flies to Christchurch to see Charlotte, Jon, Lucia and Elsie the next morning. He's back from Chch on the 16th. and then the next day we are both driving to Whangarei and staying with Sara and Hamish. Various things to do there including inspecting our storage unit and doctor appointments and then back to Auckland by the 21st. after visiting Roy and Jane at Mangawhai and Jean's brother Keith (and Eileen) where they are managing a large farm (ex Izard's) just south of Wellsford. Then some days in Auckland to catch up further with Jim's other 2 daughters (Amanda and Rozanne) and his grandson, Harry and brother Alec and his wife, Linda. Then sadly we depart for Cairns (via Brisbane) on the 27th. Hopefully after all this time in the tropics our blood won't be too thin and we can stand the cold.
Jean will be spending a fair bit of time with her sister, Heather.
Stay tuned to this website -
With lots of love from us,
Jean and Jim

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